By Kyle Hietala
DCPS Office: Chief of Schools, School Turnaround and Performance
Education: Rising Senior at Virginia Tech
Program of Study/Major: Public Policy and Business Management
Hometown: Arlington, Virginia
Saherah is deeply committed to social justice: that’s why she founded Humans Against Social Injustice (HASI), a non-profit advocacy group that seeks to influence legislation around issues such as gun violence, domestic violence, racially-based travel bans, and access to education.
“The only way you change things in government is if you’re actively tracking legislation and working on changing it for the better,” she said. “Americans don’t realize how much access the government gives us to itself.” So, Saherah’s organization helps to solve that problem by bringing people together who care about social justice issues, and then organizing trips to Capitol Hill to meet with representatives. She hopes to grow her organization to be more well-known, so that more people will reach out to their representatives and lobby for much-needed policy changes.
This summer, Saherah is working with the School Turnaround Team to help strengthen partnerships between low-performing DCPS Schools and community organizations and volunteers. She’s assembling a portfolio of school partners and reviewing their performance. Her goal is to identify the partners that are most positively impacting DCPS students, and then to examine those partner organizations in closer detail to figure out what parts of their approach make them successful.
“Anything I engage with must have a foundation of making positive changes,” Saherah said. “My work has to be influencing people directly.” Indeed, she hopes that her project this summer will help the students most in need of additional support, by providing the District with better information about its partner organizations.
“I used to always have a plan,” she mused, “but I don’t even know know what I’m doing tomorrow.” In the future, Saherah hopes to continue to do work around child advocacy, but she wants to remind people that “life is full of detours, and you don’t always need to have a plan.”